Artist Jennifer Rubell, named one of Food + Wine's 40 Big Food Thinkers Under 40, makes food her medium. She currently lives in New York City, but she lived in Miami for years, and so I grandfathered her in for this week's Scene Eating.
Rubell and the rest of her art-loving family co-created boutique hotels in Miami. She's a writer of numerous food, travel, and lifestyle articles in magazines like Vogue, Food + Wine, and the Miami Herald's home and design magazine. She is also the author of the cookbook Real Life Entertaining.
"The genesis of what I do began with a very full career writing about food and it slowly evolved into what I do now, which is completely immersed in the contemporary art world," says Rubell.
Interview after the jump...
Past exhibitions include Reconciliation at the National Portrait Gallery
in Washington DC. A table made of plywood boards was set simply with
hundreds of loaves of bread. Guests weren't given any direction, and
they had to break the bread with each other if they wanted to eat it.
Another installation was an edible padded cell of 1,800 cones of cotton
The events are always participatory, so the art always
gets eaten. I was curious about the leftovers: "Sometimes there's waste
and sometimes there's not. I think waste is an interesting subject.
Usually there's not more waste than if it was standard dinner, but the
waste is a lot more visible and offensive. There is a lot of waste in
the world, and it makes people think about it."
Rubell has created a breakfast project at the Rubell Collection for Art
Basel. This year's project, Just Right, posits the idea that perhaps
Goldilocks was an artist, taking it upon herself create perfection, just
as the contemporary artist does. Starting this morning, visitors will
encounter fifty crock pots of oatmeal (with the temperature set juuuust
right), two refrigerators of milk, and thousands of bowls, spoons, and
napkins filling the rooms of an abandoned looking house in the courtyard
of the Rubell Family Collection. Guests will get to eat oatmeal with brown
sugar, raisins, and milk, if they like. The event is free and runs today through Sunday, 9 am to noon, at the Rubell Family Collection at
95 NW 29th Street. Read Paula Nino's recap of her visit to the installation here.
New Times: What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
Jennifer Rubell: I had oatmeal. I take my oatmeal plain.
What are your top three places to eat in Miami right now?
love Michael's Genuine. The crispy hominy tastes like crack, it's so good. I've never tried crack, but the hominy is probably better and healthier for you. The salads are amazing, too.
Miami wouldn't be Miami without Joe's Stone Crab. When I go there, I get the medium stone
crabs with vinaigrette and of course, a slice of key lime pie.
sandwich to get is the Special Chicken Sandwich with potato sticks,
lime, chicken, and cheese. It's just the perfect sandwich.
What are your favorite foods to cook right now?
Right now, I'm in love with celery root. I'm making tons of celery root salad.
been getting Brussels sprouts on the stalk -- this is maybe my trick of
the year or perhaps of the decade. You can roast them on the stalk and
then cut them off at the table. It looks wonderful and tastes delicious.
I've also been cooking with a lot butternut squash and acorn squash.
What is your favorite fast food/comfort food?
My favorite fast food is a good slice of pizza, but that's more of a New York thing. My fave comfort food is Sunday dinner chicken soup.
Are there any regular food rituals you particularly enjoy?
night that my five-year-old daughter is with me (since she lives with
me half time), we cook and eat dinner together. For her fourth
birthday, I got her this hardcore Shun Santoku knife and people thought I
was crazy. I taught her how to use it. The other night she cut a
butternut squash perfectly. When we cook, she's in the charge of making the
vinaigrette from scratch and it's really good. Before we cook, we
discuss what we're cooking and what we want to put in it.
And I must ask you, what do you consider the most aesthetically pleasing food?
me, the farmers market is really where my aesthetic lives in food. I
love the unlovable produce. I love the tomato with the freakish
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appendage. I love the giant squash you have no idea what to do with. I
love overgrown carrots that look like monsters from another planet.
It's what they call une jolie-laide --"beautiful-ugly"-- that is my
aesthetic in food.